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Food Ticket: eat your way to Peru with asparagus

It’ll knock your stalks off

Time Out Hong Kong in partnership with Trade Commission of Peru

Peruvians have grown over several generations with many of the superfoods that we know and love today. In the international produce market, Peru is a leading producer of high quality fruits and vegetables. Among its offerings, asparagus is a standout and one of the first products that Peru was able to export all around the world, reaching over 80 countries today. Thanks to exceptional growing conditions, mild temperature, and scarce rainfall, the coastal areas of Peru are ideal for year round asparagus cultivation.

RECOMMENDED: Eat your way to Peru with pomegranate

Photograph: Christine Siracusa

Asparagus can be white or green. The main difference between the two is the chlorophyll. Green grows out of the earth (absorbing the sun’s rays) while the white grows underground, and are harvested before they come to the surface. Green asparagus is stronger in flavour and harder in texture, but contains more nutrients. 

White asparagus is more delicate, and is often considered a delicacy. Because it grows underground, it is much more labour intensive to harvest. Peruvian asparagus is often sought after for its quality derived from a long history of production and export in Peru.

Photograph: Carly Jayne

Asparagus has a variety of potential health benefits. It is high in fibre and water content, and rich in folic acid and vitamin K. They can be purchased fresh, frozen, canned or bottled. Roasted, barbecued, baked, boiled, sauteed, steamed, tempura deep fried, and even pickled, are all ways of bringing out the natural, earthy flavour of these crunchy spears. What’s more, they cook up in just a few minutes, and are the perfect addition to soups, salads, risotto, pasta, and on the side of a juicy steak.

One simple – and delicious – way to prepare fresh asparagus is to blanche them, then finish with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a bit of lemon zest. Asparagus is available year-round, but spring is the best season to enjoy both varieties. On your next grocery shop at City'Super, Honest Market, or ParknShopchoose Peruvian asparagus stalks that are firm to the touch and the able to stand up straight, the tips of asparagus should be closed and compact. You can also order from online farmer's markets such as Tim Kee and Sang Kee Vegetables.

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